The Early Dynastic Period, also known as Archaic Period or the Thinite Period (from Thinis, the hometown of its rulers). It is the era of ancient Egypt that immediately follows the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt in c. 3150 BC. Generally taken to include the First Dynasty and the Second Dynasty, lasting from the end of the archaeological culture of Naqada III until c. 2686 BC, or the beginning of the Old Kingdom. With the First Dynasty, the Egyptian capital moved from Thinis to Memphis. With the unified land ruled by an Egyptian god-king. In the south, Abydos remained the major centre of ancient Egyptian religion. The hallmarks of ancient Egyptian civilization took shape during the Early Dynastic Period.

Before the unification of Egypt, the land settled with autonomous villages. With the early dynasties, and for much of Egypt’s history thereafter, the country came known as “The Two Lands” (referencing Upper and Lower Egypt). The pharaohs established a national administration and appointed royal governors. In addition to Buildings of the central government were typically open-air temples. Constructed of wood or sandstone. The earliest Egyptian hieroglyphs appear just before this period, though little known of the spoken language that they represent.

Early Dynastic Period of Egypt

c. 3150 BC–c. 2686 BC
Early Dynastic Period of Egypt

A process of unification of the societies and towns of the upper Nile River, or Upper Egypt, occurred. At the same time, the societies of the Nile Delta, or Lower Egypt also underwent a unification process. Warfare between Upper and Lower Egypt occurred often. During his reign in Upper Egypt, King Narmer defeated his enemies on the Delta and merged both the Kingdom of Upper and Lower Egypt under his single rule.

Narmer is on palettes wearing the double crown, composed of the lotus flower representing Upper Egypt and the papyrus reed representing Lower Egypt – a sign of the unified rule of both parts of Egypt which was followed by all succeeding rulers. In mythology, the unification of Egypt is portrayed as the falcon-god, called Horus and identified with Lower Egypt, as conquering and subduing the god Set, who was identified with Upper Egypt. Divine kingship, which would persist in Egypt for the next three millennia, was firmly established as the basis of Egypt’s government. The unification of societies along the Nile has also been linked to the end of the African humid period.